Never owned a Choking Dog

By T.J. Simers

Dwyre and I were talking about dogs.

I know what you are thinking: Choking Dogs. But we really weren’t talking about the Dodgers.

We weren’t even discussing Plaschke’s latest meltdown or his juvenile writing style: “The Dodgers blinked first. The Dodgers blinked furiously. The Dodgers blinked recklessly.”

You write like that for a journalism class, and they are telling you to switch majors and try anything where it doesn’t involve writing.

Oh, and Plaschke’s next sentence in his Thursday morning account of the Dodgers’ game: “The Dodgers blinked so rapidly, their season has been rendered red and swollen and beyond painful.”

Eesh gads that writing stinks — one loss and the sky is falling. Please, don’t let this guy write about the Lakers.

We were talking dogs, but nothing about the Times’ sports section going to the dogs, or my favorite Dodger Dog, Clayton Kershaw, standing tall again as poster boy for the post-season blues.

No, we were talking about Oinker and Bummer, the first two dogs my wife and I owned before acquiring Shammer.

There was some concern when we started making babies what they might be named but that’s a blog for another day.

We added No Bargain to our menagerie, a huge Dalmatian who liked to take a running start before leaping onto your lap. You know, a lot like my wife.

We were just married, so the furniture was already the best you could find in an Idaho garage sale. So, no harm.

We lived in Hayden Lake, Idaho, across the street from a logging camp and down the gravel road to where the Aryan Nations headquarters was located, or so we were told after we moved. Never knew the racist skinheads were all around us in our brief stint working for the Coeur d’Alene Press, and that’s the kind of reporter I was — unable to even trip across a story.

We had a horse living in the field behind us, and I built a three-level doghouse right beyond our potato patch. Living in Yorba Linda isn’t so bad.

Dwyre, meanwhile, was born in Wisconsin with a chance to date Laverne or Shirley while waiting for the girl across the street to grow up and become his wife for the next 50-some years.

By the way, I got to know Laverne really well and Squiggy, too, so I never thought it was such a big deal when Dwyre liked to say he might have run off with Laverne. I’m not sure Laverne even knew who he was, not surprised at all that Dwyre named his dog, “Addie,” or “Addy” instead of Laverne.

It’s just the kind of dog you would expect a Notre Dame grad to own, a little fur ball who just lays there. Or lies there, whichever is proper grammar.

I’ve been to Madison Square Garden for the dog show two or three times. But I’ve never seen anything to remind me of our dogs. Gravel had one eye, probably a strike against him at Westminster.

I was on Friday night preps deadline for the Morristown Daily Record in New Jersey, my wife calling to say the cat next store had just taken the eye out of our new dog and what should she do.

Pick up the eye, I told her, and our baby daughter in the other arm, go to doggy emergency and if it costs less than $100, fix the eye. If not, tell the baby doggy is going to doggy heaven.

Cost $99 I was told, the $3,000 years later for the removal of the eye and treatment. And let that be a lesson for you if going to a pet store for gravel for the fish tank and coming out with the cute puppy in the window. It’s a lot like getting married, falling for the cute girl but never considering the expenses ahead.

We had Maui because we went there, a contest to see if Maui would last longer than the time it took to pay off the bill to go there. We had Irish, a contest then to see if we could pay for the Notre Dame daughter’s college experience before losing Irish, and sorry to say Irish lost.

We had Blah, who reminds me of the writing in the Times these days, Scruffy because we don’t believe in grooming, Holly the cat who was better known as Cat because every time we called Holly’s name, Maui came running. We had Ralphie, after the kid who nearly shot his eye out in A Christmas Story and as much time as we put into naming our dogs, I still can’t tell you why we didn’t think of naming Gravel — Ralphie.

A robber came into our Memphis house, by the way, and Gravel sat there and just let him steal our TV. I think he just figured crime was everyday life in Memphis.

We also have Rona as in an annoying little barking creep. Or CorRONA. She’s already had Puppy Strangles, Parva and her jaw fractured by Nixon. Nixon tried to cover it up, of course.

We have Nixon because the daughter has Kennedy.

Obviously, I know something about dogs, the Choking Dogs such an interesting breed. They are lovable creatures, so much to like about them only to let you down. It’s like going out and coming home to find them trashing the house and leaving a mess.

The nice thing, this is Plaschke’s mess to clean up, and as much as he has shoveled, the Times have the very best on it.

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